I have been asked way too many times what my all time favorite Twilight Zone Episodes are Keep in mind I snatched up the entire collection on DVD a few years back and that includes the documentary that Rod Sterling did as well as hour long episodes that they don’t normally show during the Twilight Zone Marathon – this year on SYFY.
I discovered twilight zone episodes when i was a girl and tvs were small boxes that if you were lucky you had one close by you could watch and at that time it was a goal to produce shows that had a plot a story etc. unlike the proliferation of “reality” shows right now.
That being said the following is my top ten Favorite Twilight Zone Episodes – if pressed for an answer. Even with the constraint of ten I had to set at least two on the side for honorable mention.
10. One For The Angels
Originally aired October 9, 1959
Stars : Ed Wynn as Lew Brockman – the salesman, Murray Hamilton as Mr. Death and Dana Dillaway as Maggie
This episode features a salesman who when faced with making his last sale is so slick he manages to outsmart, and out maneuver death himself. One of those moral dilemma plots thatt Rod Sterling was master at.
9. The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank
Originally aired February 23, 1962
Stars: James Best plays Jeff Myrtlebank, Sherry Jackson as Comfort Gatewood, and Lance Fuller as Orgram Gatewood
Plays on human fears and poses the question what would happen if someone got up out of the casket at their own funeral. How would their family react? How would the friends and neighbors react? What would happen next? How much hocus pocus do you believe in or are afraid of ? Classic Sterling.
8. The Shelter
Original air date September 29, 1961
Stars: Dr. Stockton – Larry Gates, Jerry Harlowe – Jack Albertson, Marty Weiss – Joseph Bernard, Henderson – Sandy Kenyon
A Study on human behavior masterfully done. This episode shows what happens when the threat of attack visits the neighbors of a town who start out as friends and neighbors gathered around at Dr. Stockton’s house for a social gathering and wind up ready to kill each other when the threat of attack sends people running for cover and Dr. Stockton has the only bomb shelter on the block. The shelter was built to hold only his family but his neighbors insist that they are all allowed to come in. When he refuses they ultimately wind up breaking the door in and become violent. You will want to watch this to see how it all turns out. Human nature though can be a very ugly thing. Friends and neighbors one minute – mortal enemies the next.
7. Time Enough At Last
Originally aired on November 20, 1959
Stars Burgess Meredith as Mr. Beamis
This episode struck a chord with me as I am an eternally avid reader. Perhaps not to the exclusion of other human interactions but If left in a library of books it might be a while before i emerged for air. Poor Mr. Beamis made fun of for his affinity for reading and ordered by his wife and his employer to give up that which he holds so dear. Do you change or give up the thing you love because your spouse or your job says so? Hold on to the answer and watch the episode to see what happens when we get exactly what we want. In Twilight Zone fashion it doesn’t always work out the way we expect.
6. I Shot An Arrow Into The Air
Originally aired on January 15, 1960
Stars: Corey – Dewey Martin, Col. Donlin – Edward Binns, Pierson – Ted Otis, Brandt – Leslie Barrett, Langford – Harry Bartell
Shades of Planet of the Apes and the song One Tin Soldier comes to mind. The men are part of a spaceship crew that launches and has an unexpected landing. Trying ultimately to get back to earth which is a lot closer than all of them realize.
5. The Odyssey of Flight 33
Originally aired on February 24, 1961
Stars: Capt. Farver – John Anderson, 1st Officer Craig – Paul Comi, Flight Engineer Purcell – Harp McGuire
Shades of the Bermuda Triangle. Global 33 manages to flip through a time warp and is desperately trying to make it back to their own time. When I first watched this episode every time a plane went by overhead I thought of this episode.Should they have landed in a time they didn’t belong in? What would have happened if they did land out of time?
4. Back There
Originally Aired on January 13, 1961
Stars: Peter Corrigan – Russell Johnson, William – Bartlett Robinson, Police Sergeant – Paul Hartman, John Wilkes Booth – John Lasell, 1961 Attendant – Pat O’Malley
Historical fiction has always been a favorite of mine. Adding time travel to the mix is a definite win win. This episode poses the question if you could go back in time can history be changed? Watch it and find out. Yes that is the Professor from Gilligan’s Island too !
3. A Stop at Willoughby
Originally Aired May 6, 1960
Stars: Gart Williams – James Daly, Jane Williams – Patricia Donahue, Mr. Misrell – Howard Smith
A cautionary tale about what happens when you are living a life stressed out with a job you hate and a relationship that is with the wrong person based on the wrong things. Stress and the added stress of trying to conform and be what OTHERS want you to be. Having a job that pays well means nothing when you don’t want to be there. Although right now the economy is not conducive to people just going off and doing what they feel you might want to be a little careful if you are feeling stressed. If your life is not what you want it to be and you are so generally unhappy as Mr. Williams was. You too could be making A Stop At Willoughby.
2. The Passerby
Originally aired October 5, 1961
Stars: Lavinia – Joanne Linville, The Segeant – James Gregory, Abraham Lincoln – Austin Green, Charlie – Rex Holman
Historical – check, Civil War themed – check. Major plot twist where things are not what they seem – Check. Classic sterling Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to let go and move on this shows that well.
And my number one Favorite Twilight Zone Episode is :
1. The Hunt
Originally Aired January 26, 1962
Stars: Hyder Simpson – Arthur Hunnicut, Rachel Simpson – Jeanette Nolan, Wesley Miller – Titus Moede
Man’s best friend through thick and thin and true loyalty. This episode still brings a tear to my eye even after all these years of watching it
I must also make special mention of two other episodes – The Howling Man which is a story about letting Satan loose upon the world and Nothing in the Dark , which stars a young Robert Redford as Mr. Death – come to take an old woman home finally….after she has spent a better part of her life avoiding him – literally.